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Interview With Rick Santorum; BMW Recalls 360,000 Cars; "I Have More Flexibility" after Election; Dangers of a Hot Microphone; Merah's Brother Charged in Connection with Massacre; Tebow Officially to Jets; Cheney's Heart Transplant

Aired March 26, 2012 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, Rick Santorum tells me why he cursed at a reporter. He's laying some of the blame on Mitt Romney's campaign. Stand by for my interview with Rick Santorum. Watch him listen and respond to his own fiery remarks.

Also, President Obama tells Russia's president he can do more for him after the U.S. election. Republicans are pouncing on the private remarks that were recorded for all the world to hear.

And Dick Cheney now recovering from heart transplant surgery while several thousand other patients are still waiting. We'll hear from a man who's desperate for a new heart.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Right now, it's Rick Santorum's turn to respond to opponents who say he's in panic mode right now losing his discipline. The Republican presidential candidate is under fire for lashing out at a "New York Times" reporter and cursing at him. The dust up stems from a remark Santorum made hammering Mitt Romney on the issue of healthcare.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good to have you here in the SITUATION ROOM.

SANTORUM: It's great to be in the SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: All right. Good to have you in Washington. Let's talk a little bit about this commotion that was generated over the past couple of days, and I want to, obviously, be very clear to you, I'm going to play the clip that generated some of the excitement. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: $50 abortion subsidized by Romneycare. And if you're low income, they're free. Why would we put someone up who is uniquely -- pick any other Republican in the country! He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. That was the clip in context what you were talking about to which Jeff Zeleny of the "New York Times" saw you in the rope line, and he asked you this question, and you had this exchange with him.

SANTORUM: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country. Is that true?

SANTORUM: What speech did you listen to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there.

SANTORUM: Stop lying. I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare, and that's what I was talking about. I have said uniquely -- for every speech I give, I said he is uniquely disqualified to run against Barack Obama on the issue of healthcare. Would you guys quit distorting what I'm saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think he is the worst Republican to run --

SANTORUM: To run against Barack Obama on the issue of healthcare, because he fashioned the blueprint. I've been saying it at every speech. Quit distorting my words. If I see it, it's (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Come on, man. What are you doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. The question -- obviously, that was in the context as well. Any regrets how you handle that?

SANTORUM: No, no. I mean, he came on to me -- and first stuff, it's the third time I was asked that question in the matter of four minutes.

BLITZER: By Jeff Zeleny?

SANTORUM: No, by reporters. And there was a whole gaggle of reporters, literally, five feet away and he was standing there. I'm sure -- I mean, I don't know he -- I assume he was standing there. Everyone was sort of standing in the group, there was a large group there. I was asked that question. I was asked it again.

And then, he comes over and he says, so, Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country? That's what he said, listen to his words. And I think, what speech did you listen to?

I mean, I was talking about Obamacare and Romneycare and the fact that, as I said, Governor Romney's uniquely disqualified to make the case. Why? Because he wrote the blueprint for Obamacare. And then to say, you know, spin this as Rick Santorum said he's the worst Republican in the country?

This is the kind of stuff that we've been seeing from the Romney spin machine. Their press secretary was back in the back of the room, out there feeding lines to the national press. And you know, I repeatedly battened it down, gave responses.

BLITZER: In fairness, you did say -- and in the context of health care, but you did say that one line he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.

SANTORUM: On this issue.

BLITZER: But you didn't say on this issue, but that was context.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- to clarify that and you lost it.

SANTORUM: It was the third time I was asked to clarify, it was the third time in a matter of two minutes. And in this case, he just said, do you think -- he said, Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country, he stopped there. He didn't say on this issue. And, again, it was first -- he was the worst Republican, and then, there was another one, and then, he took it one step further.

And I just thought, you know what, if this is the kind of spin, and by the way, this is the spin that's been going on out there. Taking comments that I've made completely out of the context which I made them. This is what they make a living on, instead of covering the context, which is what I discussed at the Supreme Court today, which is Mitt Romney cannot run this race on Obamacare.

BLITZER: Because as you saw the Romney folks came out quickly with the statement raising questions about your temperament --

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: -- because you had this exchange with Zeleny.

SANTORUM: Any good conservative who hasn't had a flare up with "The New York Times" isn't worth their self (ph).

BLITZER: But you know Jeff Zeleny. He's a very solid reporter.

SANTORUM: I don't know Jeff Zeleny.

BLITZER: He's a very serious political reporter. He's not like a hacker --

SANTORUM: Well, hold on. So, what he said was not anywhere consistent with what I said. I mean, he went out and said, so Mitt Romney is the worst Republican. That's what he --

BLITZER: Because another Romney folks are saying temperamentally, you're not suited to be president, because you lost it in this exchange with the reporter. Here's the statement they put out. "In the final stages of his campaign, Rick Santorum is lashing out withes desperate and flailing attacks, and now, he is in full panic. His behavior sad is sad to watch." That's from the Romney campaign.

SANTORUM: After I won Louisiana by 23 points. Look, if this is all the Romney campaign can do is send people to my speeches, take comments out of context --

BLITZER: They didn't send Jeff Zeleny to your speech.

SANTORUM: No, but they --

BLITZER: He's been covering you for a long time.

SANTORUM: I understand, but just so you understand, they sent a Romney person to our speech. He fed the line to all the reporters. We saw it happening. And every man in that room, even reporters, yes, we understand what you meant. But, you know, the Romney people said this to us, so we had asked about. That's what happened.

And so, you know, look, I understand the game, but you talk about desperate and pathetic, Mitt Romney can't run on his record. He can't run on -- here we have the whole world watching, what's going on here in Washington, the Supreme Court argument. Mitt Romney is 3,000 miles away. He should be here. This is an issue that Barack Obama is running -- he's 7,000 miles away.

He doesn't want anything to do with Obamacare. He celebrated the anniversary last week, no comment. Nothing. And he's running away from it.

And unfortunately, if you want Obamacare repealed as a conservative, as -- 75 percent of Americans want it revealed because of the individual mandate, then you're going to have to have a campaign about repealing it and why it should be repealed and the person who passing the blueprint and advocated for that blueprint to be adopted to the federal level, which Mitt Romney did, is, in fact, uniquely disqualified to make that argument.

BLITZER: So, what do you say to a Jeb Bush or an Eric Cantor or a Nikki Haley or Chris Christie who say you know what? He's the best qualified person to challenge the president of the United States in his bid for re-election. SANTORUM: I have a lot of supporters who would say that I'm the best person. I mean, there are supporters of his. Fine with that. But look, I'm talking about what is objectively the case. What is objectively the case is that he had a government mandated healthcare program in Massachusetts. It required everybody to have it. He fined if you didn't.

They put limits on the kind of policies you could have. They put up insurance exchanges managed by the government. They have subsidies given by the government. They employed Medicaid that covered most of the people who come on to the program (ph). This is exactly the model of Obamacare.

BLITZER: Having said all that, if he is the Republican nominee, you'll vote for him.

SANTORUM: Absolute -- look, I start every speech, Wolf, by saying, this is the most important election of our lifetime, and though, we have to defeat Barack Obama, but the reason I said I'm in this race and I believe that that's the case is Obamacare.

And if we don't have a candidate who's 3,000 miles away because he doesn't want to talk about the issue, because he can't on substance disagree with the policies of this administration, other than the fact that it's the federal level as opposed to the state level.

We are in desperate shape to run a campaign to convince the American public to not only elect a Republican, but elect a Republican with the mandate to make the changes that are necessary.

BLITZER: If the Supreme Court appalls the law, what's your strategy?

SANTORUM: Full force. You know, this is bad for our country. It will rob us of our freedom.

BLITZER: What would you do?

SANTORUM: Well, I'll continue to make the case of the American public that Barack Obama has to be defeated, otherwise, this bill is going to be implemented. And if it's implemented, it's going to take our freedom away, it's going to destroy the economy of this country, it's going to raise unemployment rates, it's going to balloon the size of the government, and it's going to dramatically increase our deficit. This is a loser on every single front.

BLITZER: Let's talk about your strategy for a moment, because all of the math that we've done suggests that you don't have a realistic chance of getting to 1,144. Romney does, but you might be able to prevent him from reaching that. Is it your goal just to have a debate on the convention floor?

SANTORUM: With all due respect, we don't agree with your numbers. We think they're wrong.

BLITZER: Do you think you can realistically get to 1,144 before the convention?

SANTORUM: We think we can get there, and we think the likelihood, I would agree with that, I think the likelihood that neither of us can get there, but I think we can still get there. Our numbers are very different than yours. You have some calculations with Florida, Idaho, Arizona, for example, winner take all. As, you know, the RNC rules, so you can't have a winner take all.

So, those will be apportioned at the convention, and you give Romney all those delegates, you know, Newt Gingrich or any of them. So, you're going to see a lot of changes when the reality sets in that this race is all likelihood going to go to the convention.

And, there may be someone with what they say are enough delegates, but as you also know, Wolf, a huge number of delegates are uncommitted. They may be for me or they may be for Mitt, but they're technically uncommitted, and therefore, you can't put them in your column.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the president of the United States. You used some pretty harsh rhetoric in going after him. I'll play a little clip of something you've said repeatedly. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I'm going to ask each and every one of you to act over the next 24 hours. Your freedom is at stake, because it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Your freedom is at stake.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BLITZER: That makes it sound like people are going to go (INAUDIBLE) or there's going to be a totalitarian regime here or our freedom is going to be taken away from us.

SANTORUM: As I just talked about, our freedom is going to be at stake, because you now have the government telling you that you will buy what the government says you have to buy, whether it's what you want or not, whether it's how much you want to pay or not, a private citizen on a condition of living in America is going to be forced to do something that never before a government has imposed upon.

And, as we've seen with these regulations, even if it violates your deeply held religious convictions, the federal government is going to force you to do something that violate your tenants and teachings of your faith. That is First Amendment freedoms, economic freedoms, religious freedoms being taken away by a government who believes they know better how to run your life --

BLITZER: You also have a brand-new web ad that paints an apocalyptic image of what could happen in the country if President Obama is re-elected. I'll play you a little clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine a small American town two years from now if Obama is re-elected. Small businesses are struggling and families are worried about their jobs and their future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Just to be fair to the president of the United States, when he took office, the country was near a recession, a great recession. Losing 700,000 jobs a month, now over the past few months, gaining 200,000 jobs a month. The stock market was, what, around 7,000 something like that. Now, it's over 13,000.

It doesn't look like -- and the economic indicators are moving in the right direction as opposed to the wrong direction.

SANTORUM: Well, first off, this has been the most anemic recovery in the history of our country.

BLITZER: It's been a recovery.

SANTORUM: Well, but it's anemic. And the rates of growth that are sustainable at increasing jobs. This president has exploded, exploded the credit card. $5 trillion added to the national debt. That's going to come a cropper (ph) at some point for the American people, and we know it.

We'll either do it by having huge amounts of debt payments that we're going to have to pay, which of course will further balloon the deficit or huge tax increases are going to put in effect. You see as energy policy is driving up the cost of energy, which of course will slow down the economy.

BLITZER: But in terms of the right track, we're on check (ph). The country was clearly on the wrong track in 2008.

SANTORUM: Three and a half years, Wolf, and we're still talking about a pathetic economy.

BLITZER: A lot of workers, auto workers, auto suppliers, they have jobs now because of some of the steps he took.

SANTORUM: There may be one or two places where the president can point to, but the fact of the matter is for almost four years, this president has -- governed an economy that is suffering, struggling, and blowing holes through our deficit.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but people in Pennsylvania, your home state, are they better of today than they were four years ago?

SANTORUM: I'm happy to ask that question, and I guarantee --

BLITZER: What do you say?

SANTORUM: I don't think by any stretch --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- on the verge of a great recession?

SANTORUM: What we've seen is a great recession over the past four years. We've seen unemployment rates above eight percent for the longest time since the great depression. Yes, we have a president who has destroyed our fiscal picture (ph). When I left the Senate in 2006, the 64 percent was the percentage of debt to the overall economy.

It's now 110 percent. I mean, we are in hack (ph). And for all that in hack (ph), we have an economy that's listless. Unemployment rate is over eight percent. Energy prices skyrocketing, a consumer confidence just in the dump. This is a disastrous four years under this president, and it would be even worse if he gets reelected.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, thanks for coming in.

SANTORUM: My pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right. So, we've now heard from Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich, all of them in the SITUATION ROOM today. This programming note for our viewers, Ron Paul will be Piers Morgan's guest later tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

President Obama tells Russia's president to give him some space until after election day. A private chat all caught on an open microphone is causing a huge political stir.

And a soldier's wife says she doesn't believe her husband could have slaughtered Afghan civilians. We'll hear her described the moments she spoke to her husband after learning of the massacre.

And find out if your car is the target of a brand-new recall right here in the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Obamacare went on trial today with the Supreme Court of the United States beginning three days of arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark healthcare law. And after today's 90-minute session, it does seem like a majority of the justices want to decide the case now instead of waiting another two years until law goes into effect.

Tomorrow, the justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. That's the key to the whole showdown. Twenty-six states are suing the federal government claiming that the healthcare law's unconstitutional because of that individual mandate provision. It requires most Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or face a financial penalty. Republicans have been out in full force, slamming the law. All of the GOP presidential candidates say they'll try to repeal Obamacare if they win. Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell says repeal of Obamacare will be the first order of business if Republicans win control of the Senate in November.

Democrats have their work cut out for them defending all of this, and they're not getting much help from President Obama. He didn't even bother to publicly mark the bill's two-year anniversary last week. That's something he's been only too anxious to do in the past. This might be the reason, polls suggest many Americans just don't like Obamacare.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows that 50 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the law, only 43 percent approve. But more importantly, perhaps, when asked how the Supreme Court should rule, more than seven in 10, 70 percent say the high court should overturn either all or part of Obamacare.

So, here's the question, what's the future for President Obama's healthcare reform law? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

The brother of Mohamed Merah, the French gunman behind last week's deadly shooting spree, is now being charged in connection with the massacre. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, also some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he was taken into custody on complicity charges in seven murders and two attempted murders. He's also being charged with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism and group theft. Merah, who claimed who have ties to al Qaeda, was shot dead Thursday after more than 30-hour standoff with police.

His brother says he's outraged by the charges and says he's now being made a scapegoat for the siege.

BMW is recalling more than 360,000 five and six series models here in the United States due to a battery and cable in the trunk that may have been incorrectly installed. The luxury automaker said the issue could cause electrical problems, and in some cases, a fire. The cars involved manufactured between 2003 and 2010. BMW is notifying owners and will make the repair free of charge. No injuries or accidents are reported.

And the U.S. Supreme Court says a nine-year-old boy can pursue his case to have Israel listed as the place of birth on his U.S. passport. He was born in Jerusalem, which is listed in his passport.

The Obama administration considers Jerusalem disputed territory that should be left to bilateral negotiations to resolve, not a 2002 federal law affecting the 15,000 Americans born there. The justices ruled courts can decide the matter, and whether Jerusalem or Israel is printed in passports.

And a UK couple tying the knot. Well, they got the ultimate surprise. You got to see this here when their wedding was suddenly crashed by none other than Queen Elizabet, herself. The couple heard that she'd be in town on their big day, and so, they sent an invitation on a whim.

They never expected that she would actually show up. So, despite the shock, both managed to remember their royal manners in her presence.

I guess, then technically, Wolf, if she got an invitation, technically, she wasn't crashing. But, what a surprise there to see royalty at your wedding.

BLITZER: A great surprise, a lovely bride, too. Congratulations to the bride and groom. And happy that the queen actually could attend. Thank you for that.

Meanwhile, a major open mic gaffe that's already spelling some serious trouble for President Obama out there on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: this is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. That story coming up.

Also, the former Vice President Dick Cheney's new heart already igniting somewhat of a controversy. Some say it should have gone to someone younger than the former vice president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Republicans are warning that President Obama may have a secret agenda for his second term that he's sharing with world leaders but not with American voters. The president had a candidate chat with Russia's president about the political realities he faces, apparently, not realizing his microphone was on.

Our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar is traveling with the president in Seoul, South Korea right. Brianna is joining us. Brianna, tell us what happened.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Obama was caught by a microphone telling Russian president, outgoing Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, that he needed more space when it comes to the missile defense system that NATO led by the U.S. is planning in Europe.

Why did he need more space? Basically, election year politics, this was an exchange that was caught as reporters entered the room where the two leaders were meeting at the end of a 90-minute formal one-on-one discussion. And here is the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: I understand you. I transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, this is a very prickly issue between the two countries. The U.S. which is leading this effort says this is about protecting Europe, protecting from a potential Iranian strike, but Russia bristles (ph) the idea of having a missile defense system so close to its border, Wolf, as you know, saying that it violates Russian sovereignty.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney told me in the last hour that the president's comments, in his words, were alarming and troubling. He's certainly not the only Republican pouncing President Obama right now. What's the reaction? What are you getting from White House officials traveling with the president right now?

KEILAR: Right now, Wolf, they're very much downplaying this saying it's not surprising that President Obama would acknowledge election year politics, election year politics in the U.S. as well as Russia, but the RNC has already put out a web video on this and the question that Republicans are really asking is if the president has a different agenda as they put it after the election, what other things might he be planning if he isn't responsible to the electorate.

But I think the bottom line here any time you have President Obama or a president that is caught on an open mic and we've seen this before, it very much becomes news and at least, at the very least, the acknowledgement of election year politics might knock some of that presidential luster off of President Obama in this election year as he's still waiting to really campaign in full force, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you're getting ready to head up to the DMZ, Brianna. We'll stay in close touch. It's already Monday -- it's already Tuesday morning, I should say, in Seoul, South Korea. Have a safe trip. We'll speak to you later. Thank you.

Of course, this isn't the first time the president has been recorded saying something he'd prefer to keep quiet. Do you think politicians would learn by not a watch out for that hot open microphone? Let's bring in our senior political analyst, the former presidential advisor, David Gergen. How much of a problem, David, is this for the president right now?

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a serious matter, Wolf, because it's not just a question of changing your position on some future campaign issue, this is really a question of whether the president's going to change his policy with regard to missile defense. As you know, from long years stretching all the way back to Ronald Reagan, missile defense has been an enormously controversial idea with American politics and the Republicans have been worried all along that President Obama would essentially bargain away our missile defense ideas. And what he said, in effect, to the Russians was "I'm going to have to stand tough on missile defense during the election year, but after the elections are over, I have more flexibility." Tell Mr. Putin I have more flexibility in my negotiations. That plays exactly into what the Republicans have feared all along and that is that he would bargain it away.

BLITZER: Not only on this issue, but on other issues already a lot of Republicans are saying, you know if the president is re- elected, can't run again, he can only has two terms in the White House, he can do anything he wants over the next four years shall we say and the American public wouldn't be able to do much about that. How does the White House counter that argument based on this hot open microphone incident today.

GERGEN: Well, I think they have to be very clear about what the president's plans are for his second term, especially with regard to national security. But, you know, it's worth understanding here, it was only last week, of course we had etch a sketch from the Romney campaign suggesting that his campaign rhetoric isn't going to be adjusted as the year goes on. So I think in effect the president has given the Republicans a gift, he's leveled the playing field on that issue. But still, from the voters point of view, how can you not believe, neither one of these guys is telling us the complete truth about what he stands for.

BLITZER: Because it's one thing to be overheard telling the Russian president, soon to be the former president, there's a new president going to be taking office. It's one thing to be overheard basically saying you know what just give me some time after the election, I'll have more flexibility. And then you hear Medvedev say I'll tell Vladimir, meaning Vladimir Putin, I'll share your points with him. It's a very awkward moment I should say for this president of the United States.

GERGEN: It sure is, Wolf -- this is -- this is serious because it goes to national security. This is -- missile defense has been -- when it was put forward many derided it, but it's turned out that having various forms of missile defense are pretty important for the security, say right now of Israel, as you know, I mean the capacity to knock down incoming weapons is very, very important security of Israel and we're going to find it increasingly important to the United States especially as other nations get nuclear weapons.

If Iran were to get a nuclear weapon, that's exactly what people are worried about. Missile defense may be the only way to defend yourself, if you're Israel or others. So this is -- this is a serious matter, and I think the president does need to clean it up. But I would just come back to this, the Republicans have got their own problems in this area with etch-a-sketch and they need to be clear, too. We need to hear from both candidates what they would do second term. Most Americans do not know exactly what Mitt Romney would do and now they don't know what Barack Obama would do.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a real, as I say, awkward moment indeed. David thanks very much.

GERGEN: Oh very awkward. Thank you.

BLITZER: We also have new details coming in about the investigation of the American soldier charged with slaughtering Afghan civilians; one official said Robert Bales told other soldiers he had killed some Afghan men.

And at age 71, was Dick Cheney too old for a heart transplant? The former vice president's surgery is sparking a debate. We'll update you on what's going on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The wife of the U.S. soldier charged with murdering Afghan civilians is now speaking out claiming her husband was not the kind of man who could slaughter innocent children. We have new information about the investigation of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. Here's our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Staff Sergeant Robert Bales snuck off his remote outpost not once but twice in his alleged 90-minute shooting rampage in two Afghan villages two senior U.S. officials tell CNN. CNN has learned that after the alleged shooting in the first village, Bales snuck back into his base, according to the two officials. They say Bales was seen at that point by fellow troops. One official says investigators believe Bales told other soldiers he had just killed military age Afghan men.

The officials did not know whether those troops told anyone. Then Bales snuck out again and headed to the second village and was apprehended by a search party as he attempted to return into the combat outpost the second time. Until now it was believed an Afghan guard was the only one who saw Bales that night and alerted the U.S. troops on base. Bales' wife, Karilyn, told the "NBC Today" show she believes her husband could not have committed the crime.

KARILYN BALES, WIFE OF STAFF SGT. ROBERT BALES: He loves children and he would not do that. It's heartbreaking. I can't imagine losing my children so my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children.

STARR: But even Mrs. Bales says her husband wasn't himself when she spoke to him at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas where he is being held.

K. BALES: He was -- seemed a bit confused as to where he was and why he was there.

STARR: It could be months before the criminal investigation is complete and Bales is potentially brought to trial. But General John Allen, the top U.S. commander, has ordered a separate investigation into how that combat outpost was run by commanders given the presence of alcohol and what happened.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN, COMMANDER, ISAF: I'm not going to get into details about describing the unit or the -- this particular event. I will be satisfied when I get the report that we have looked closely at the potential contributing factors that might have permitted this event to have unfolded tragically.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Barbara joining us now -- Barbara, there were three more incidents today of coalition forces being killed by Afghan troops. What happened?

STARR: Well, according to reports, Wolf, two British troops, one U.S. troop killed again in the so-called green on blue incident when Afghan troops killed coalition forces. General Allen said he's continuing to look at all of this. He wants to try and understand. Is it extremist infiltrators? What can be done to know that these people are out there in the Afghan forces? He says the Afghans are trying to do more about security checks, the U.S. troops, the coalition forces trying to do more to protect themselves out in the field, but very troubling now, it brings up to I believe the number is now 16 coalition forces killed this year by Afghans -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, thank you. Thousands of people who are younger than Dick Cheney needed the heart that he received. Was the former vice president too old for a heart transplant? There's a debate underway right now.

And Tim Tebow officially becomes a New York Jet and tries to score points with his new teammates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: At a northern Virginia hospital right now just outside of Washington, the former Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering from heart transplant surgery. Several thousand people are actually on a waiting list for a new heart, and some are wondering if the former vice president should have been disqualified because of his age. He is 71. Our Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the controversy that has developed. What's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seventy-one years old is Dick Cheney's age, Wolf. Most heart transplant recipients are between 50 and 64 years old. The experts we spoke with do not believe Cheney got preferential treatment, but with donors becoming more scarce and the demand still high the debate over age is heating up.

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TODD (voice-over): At 71, Dick Cheney is older than your average heart transplant recipient. Most fall into Grant Fuesner's bracket. He's just turning 64, has been hospitalized at the University of Maryland Medical Center waiting for a match. You can hear his artificial heart beating in the room.

(HEART BEATS)

GRANT FUESNER, HEART TRANSPLANT CANDIDATE: You got to be really patient and you have to have a certain mindset. You do get tired of staying in one place.

TODD: Medical advances have made it more common for older patients like Cheney to get heart transplants, but the number of heart donors has been declining since the mid '90s, so medical ethicists (ph) are raising a critical question.

ART CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST, UNIV. OF PENNSLYVANIA: I think the question that we have to face as a society is given scarce resources, given that there aren't enough hearts to go around, why aren't we trying to make sure they go to younger people as opposed to older people.

TODD: I asked Dr. Samer Najjar, director of heart transplantation at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (ph). He's part of a team that decides who gets a transplant at his hospital.

(on camera): Is 71 years old too old to have a heart transplant?

DR. SAMER NAJJAR, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: When we're evaluating a patient for heart transplantation we look at multiple factors, age is one of them and so we don't necessarily say somebody's not a candidate just strictly on age. If somebody's over the age of 70, then we've got to look at them very closely. We've got to look at all their body organs on how functional they are.

TODD (voice-over): Najjar says the fact that Cheney has had bypass surgery and a pacemaker doesn't have a big influence on the decision. Those procedures were for his old heart that was taken out. He says they look at need, projected life expectancy, your ability to take medications.

(on camera): This is a model of a human heart. This is the front of it. Dr. Najjar, how do you take this entire organ out and replace it with another one?

NAJJAR: Well during the heart transplant surgery, what the cardiac surgeon does is they will separate the blood vessels that get blood into the heart from the heart itself. The only thing they leave is they leave the back side of the upper chamber in there and then they remove this entire heart and take it out of the body.

TODD (voice-over): Then he says the new heart is connected back to that chamber left behind and the blood vessels are reconnected, a procedure that Grant Fuesner can't wait for.

FUESNER: I had a baby granddaughter two weeks ago. I just want to live life and be as active as possible again and it's going to mean everything to me.

(HEART BEATS)

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Neither Dr. Najjar nor other experts we spoke with believe Dick Cheney jumped the line on other transplant candidates. Najjar says the process for selecting recipients is heavily regulated. He says a central network, which operates nationally allocates hearts based on blood type, body size, geographic distribution and the amount of time the person is on the waiting list. He says they are not prioritized based on their name or status, Wolf. That would not have played into this decision with Dick Cheney.

BLITZER: And the former vice president had some other advantages as well.

TODD: That's right, two advantages according to Art Caplan, that bioethicist. The two advantages money and health insurance. These procedures run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the procedures and the medications. He says if you don't have health insurance, you're far less likely to even be considered for an evaluation for a heart transplant much less get one.

BLITZER: We wish the former vice president a speedy, speedy recovery. We'll welcome him back into THE SITUATION ROOM once he's ready to go.

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TODD: Sounds good.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

We're just learning Whitney Houston's ex-husband, the singer Bobby Brown was arrested just a couple of hours ago. You're going to find out what's going on. And even in New York, Tim Tebow is a star. Stand by for all the hoopla surrounding his debut as a New York Jet.

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BLITZER: Heavy shelling bombarding the Syrian city of Homs. Our Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf activists say at least 59 people have been killed just today in shelling and sniper fire raining down on civilians around the country, among the dead, four men allegedly trying to retrieve bodies. One opposition group is reporting the arrest of an activist critical to delivering humanitarian aid and helping foreign journalists get into the country. Turkey and Norway are also closing their embassies in Damascus due to the bloodshed.

And just into CNN, L.A. police arrested singer Bobbie Brown, the ex-husband of Whitney Houston, just about two hours ago. Police tell us Brown was pulled over for talking on his cell phone, showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test. He was booked on DUI charges.

Also just into THE SITUATION ROOM lawyers for Dominique Strauss- Kahn say he has been charged for his role in a French prostitution ring. He faces charges of aggravated pimping in an organized ring. The former head of the International Monetary Fund acknowledges that he attended sex parties, but says he didn't know the women were prostitutes.

And this update to a story we recently brought you. Legendary producer Harvey Weinstein (ph) says he will release a controversial documentary on bullying unrated this Friday. The Motion Picture of Association of America had rated the film R due to profanity, which sparked a failed effort among critics to get the rating changed to PG- 13 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So now it is unrated. What does that mean, Lisa? What's going to happen?

SYLVESTER: It means that it's going to be released. You know there are actually a number of films that this happens to. It is not like every film that gets -- that people see in the movie theaters actually have a rating. It's going to just say that it's rated instead of being PG-13, instead of being R it will just say unrated -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Lisa, thanks very much. Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is what's the future for President Obama's healthcare reform law? Arguments began before the Supreme Court today over the constitutionality of part of it. C. writes from Houston, "why is this now being addressed? It should have been addressed before the law was passed. If it is deemed unconstitutional, all I can say is what a waste of time and money." Amen.

Gary in California, "looks to me like healthcare reform is about to get reformed. The Supreme Court will probably rule against the mandate which will drive the need for reform Version 2. Our broken government will then make public spectacles debating this tough issue until we're all numb. I am suggesting people will lose interest in this movie around reform Version 4 and nothing will get done."

M. writes "given a similar right wing activist Supreme Court disallowed the counting of votes in Gore versus Bush back in 2000, I expect the healthcare decision will be politically motivated as well." Alex writes, "it may fail. The mandate is good, but should include an opt-out provision that also allows hospitals and emergency rooms to deny care to those without insurance or proof of funds. I am sick and tired of over paying for medical care because of those who abuse the system."

Jack in Washington writes "buy health insurance or pay a penalty. That's what uninsured Americans face in two years. The U.S. Supreme Court will ask itself is it or is it not constitutional to force blanket participation? In my mind the smart money is on no."

Mark in Oklahoma writes "it is bad enough the government has control of so many aspects of my life already. Somehow, the thought of Uncle Sam wearing a doctor's uniform scares the hell out of me. I am hoping Obamacare is bound to the bad idea is trashy."

And Carol in Massachusetts says "if somebody will tell me what is in it and what it does, I will let you know." If you want to read more about this, go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you. Tim Tebow jets to New York City, up next the Big Apple rolls out the red carpet for its newest star.

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BLITZER: Tebow mania is hitting the Big Apple as New Yorkers welcome a sports hero to his new home. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tim Tebow seemed perpetually amused by all the attention and at his introductory press conference it became clear there is no way you're going to get this guy to cool his jets.

TIM TEBOW, NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK: I am so excited about being a Jet. I am so proud to be a Jet, and being the best Jet that I can possibly be. It truly is an honor to be a Jet --

MOOS: Even his jet was honored, the one that flew him into New York last week had his jersey number, 15, and QB for quarterback on its tail, but his own tale is covered in his latest Jockey ad, "we support Tebow and New York" says Jockey's new billboard at the Lincoln Tunnel. The Jets used an indoor playing field to accommodate all the media wanting to cover Tebow's first press conference and I can tell you we're not used to this kind of treatment from a celebrity.

TEBOW: It is an honor for all of you to show up to hear me say a few words --

MOOS: How dare he. This is the kind of treatment we're used to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop lying.

MOOS: Tebow said nice things about everybody, especially Jet's first string quarterback Mark Sanchez, the one he will play back-up to.

TEBOW: Be stronger together than we would be apart.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How much pressure are you feeling at this point?

TEBOW: None, actually --

MOOS: None? You expect us to believe it is no pressure having the world famous Carnegie Deli (ph) dedicate a sandwich to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to tackle the Tebow. We could -- (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Jet-bow --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: the Jet-bow.

MOOS: Radio show host Bob Bronson had a better name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why aren't we calling it the BL-Tebow.

MOOS: Probably because bacon is one of the few things not in this $22 monstrosity.

SANDY LEVINE, CARNEGIE DELI: Roast beef on the bottom, you have corned beef, pastrami, American cheese, lettuce and tomato, mayonnaise and white bred.

MOOS: Usually it's rye bread and mustard, but Tebow represents white bread and mayonnaise say the deli's owners.

(on camera): (INAUDIBLE) the size of a football.

(voice-over): Easier to hike than to eat.

(on camera): Sixteen, 32, hut, hut, it's going long --

(voice-over): Incomplete but at least impossible to intercept.

TEBOW: I am so honored and humbled to be a Jet.

SINGING: When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way --

TEBOW: Now being a Jet it is awesome.

SINGING: When you are a Jet, you stay a Jet --

MOOS: Could you please pass the pastrami?

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

SINGING: When you're a Jet --

MOOS: -- New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Corned beef looked good. That's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.